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Final Cut Pro Power Tip: Setting a Position Keyframe in LiveType

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The beauty of LiveType is that you can create dazzling text animation without a single keyframe. Larry Jordan shows the control that's possible when you start adding keyframes.

Let’s take a look at a way to create a motion effect in LiveType. This is a simple example, but you can use this technique to build your own sophisticated effects. (Granted, you could use one of the prebuilt LiveType effects, but then you wouldn’t learn anything, would you?)

Keyframes in LiveType differ from those in Final Cut Pro. In Final Cut Pro, you set a keyframe for each parameter you want to adjust. In LiveType, one keyframe covers every parameter for that frame.

Keep in mind that with both Final Cut Pro and LiveType, you always work with keyframes in pairs to create starting and ending positions for your effect. In LiveType, every effect also has an a keyframe automatically set at the beginning and end of the effect clip.

In this example, I’ve created an animated open for a snowboard video (see Figure 1). I want it to fly in from the side and then drop out the bottom. Let’s see how to use keyframes to create this effect.

Figure 01

Figure 1 Adding keyframes allow you to change the position of this text animation.

  1. Figure 2 shows the simple animation we’ll manipulate. Select the track where you want to apply the effect, and choose Track > Add New Effect (or press Cmd-E). A purple effect track appears below the text track, as shown in Figure 3.
    Figure 02

    Figure 2 This is the timeline for the effect illustrated in Figure 1.

    Figure 03

    Figure 3 The purple effects clip appears below the track it controls. Change the speed of an effect by changing the length of the clip.

  2. Grab the right edge of the effect track and stretch it so that it runs from the In to the Out marker, as shown in Figure 4. This means that the effect we’re creating runs the full length of the clip. (If you only want the effect to run for a portion of the clip, change the location and duration of the effect clip so that it matches the length of your effect.)
    Figure 04

    Figure 4 The length of the effect has been stretched to run from the In to the Out.

  3. For this example, we want the effect to last for 20 frames, so move the playhead 20 frames into the clip. The yellow tool tip will tell you when you’re at the right spot, as shown in Figure 5.
    Figure 05

    Figure 5 The playhead is moved 20 frames into the effect so a new keyframe can be set.

  4. Make sure that the effect track is selected (the track is highlighted in a darker color); then choose Track > Add Keyframe (or press Cmd-K).
  5. Move the playhead to the beginning of the clip. As there’s always a keyframe on the first and last frame of a clip, placing the playhead at the beginning of the clip allows you to adjust the first keyframe.
  6. Go to the Inspector and click the Attributes tab. Click the small padlock to the right of the Offset X and Offset Y sliders. Drag the Offset X slider all the way to the right, as shown in Figure 6. See how the text moves? Hmmm...see how it doesn’t move enough to get off the screen? The slider only moves to 100 pixels.
    Figure 06

    Figure 6 The X offset controls horizontal position; the Y offset controls vertical position. Here, the slider limits horizontal movement to 100 pixels.

  7. What to do, what to do? Ah, yes. One of the secrets of LiveType is that you can enter values in a data box that are far larger than those you can get by simply moving the slider; the Offset X attribute can actually move far more than the slider allows. So type 600 into the data entry box to the right of the slider, as shown in Figure 7.
    Figure 07

    Figure 7 Typing directly into a data box allows entry of number greater than 100; in this case, 600 pixels.

    Poof! The text disappears off the right side of the screen (see Figure 8).

    Figure 08

    Figure 8 The text is positioned just off-screen on the right side of the frame.

  8. Play your clip and watch as the clip slides in from the right.
  9. For extra credit, create another keyframe in this same effects track 20 frames from the end. Then move to the end of the effect (where the small edge triangle is) and change the Offset Y value from 0 to 200. Watch what happens to your clip.

There are always at least two keyframes on a LiveType clip—one at the beginning and the other at the end. However, they’re not activated unless you change a parameter when you’re parked on the keyframe, or when you create another keyframe somewhere in the middle of the effect and start to make changes. Otherwise, LiveType assumes that your changes are just the permanent location for that image.

Oh, and you can easily move a keyframe by dragging it.

There’s much more to learn about keyframes in LiveType, but that’s enough to get you started.

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